12 Things Friends In Dysfunctional Relationships Do
The signs of an unhealthy romantic relationship are pretty easy to spot — constant lying, fighting over silly things, and refusing to set aside quality time for one another. We usually know when and how to pull ourselves out of these less-than-desirable situations (hopefully). But sometimes, it's not so easy to identify when a friendship is dysfunctional — especially when you've been in the trenches with this person for years, through all of life's ups and downs.
The longer you've been BFFs, the more difficult it often gets to recognize that your friendship is dysfunctional. It's just as important, though, to learn how to recognize these unhealthy behaviors in your friendships as it is in your romances — because the people you have around the most have a big influence on your overall health and mental wellness.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says "we're the average of the five people we spend the most time with," so you should start asking yourself what kind of friends you've got in your corner. Even if they've been around since you were a toddler, be honest with yourself about whether this friend is someone you'd like to keep around in the long run.
Here are 12 things friends in dysfunctional relationships do.
1. They Talk About Dieting All The Time
According to Judy Mahle Lutter's book The Bodywise Woman, 50 percent of women at any given point are on a diet. This is hardly helping us in the long run, as 95 percent of all dieters gain their weight back within a few years — and, as a result, have an unhealthy outlook on eating in general.
Unfortunately, there are lots of women out there who encourage each other to engage in this behavior because it's easier to go from one extreme to the next when you've got someone by your side. But not only does it hurt each one of you individually, it also puts a serious strain on your relationship. You get so hyper-focused on food that the other blooming parts of your friendship start to dwindle away.
2. They Compete With Their Friend's Partner For Attention
This is especially common when one friend brings home a new beau, and the other just can't handle the fact that they may have to compete for affection. However, any two people in a mature, grown-ass friendship would know that there never has to be any competition, no matter how much time this new, charming SO is seemingly stealing from the both of you.
3. They Routinely Flake Out On Each Other
Skipping out on established plans or ignoring a string of texts is a pretty clear sign that two friends aren't as tight as they once were. Even if it's the small stuff, like meeting for a quick lunch, if you don't follow through, you're not communicating much commitment to one another. And if you can't walk a few blocks to have a coffee together, how do you expect to be there for each other when there's a serious issue?
4. They Don't Get Excited For Each Other When Good Things Happen
Your bestie's reaction to your job promotion is a telltale sign of whether your relationship is dysfunctional. In a twisted friendship, jealousy will call the shots when one of you announces good news. A not-so-friendly friend might respond with apathy or indifference because, deep down, they're not really that happy for you.
5. They Put Each Other Down In Public
Friends who are holding grudges and resentment tend to let their true emotions come out when there is an audience; they might make snide comments under their breath or outright criticize one another in an embarrassing way, knowing that these actions will probably go unaddressed in a group of people.
Letting these sentiments come out in a public setting is as passive aggressive as it gets — it's an attempt to avoid the real confrontation that would take place if you sat your friend down and told them how you were really feeling.
6. They're Critical About Each Other's Outfits
The judgmental looks, the curt remarks, the critical up-and-down checkouts — these are all symptoms of phony BFFs who care far too much about the material. There's nothing wrong with helping your friend pick out the best outfit in their closet, but the second you blindside them with criticisms about their taste in fashion, you're being a dysfunctional friend.
7. They Tell Each Others' Secrets
Obviously, gossiping isn't exactly a symptom of a rock-solid friendship. You're on thin ice if you find yourself airing out each other's dirty laundry every time you see a mutual friend. This is also a clear sign that you two are keen on creating drama — never a healthy habit among friends.
Best friends are supposed to be the protector of each other's secrets, not the revealer of them. By doing this, you are breaking the crucial trust between the two of you, and without that, you've got no shot at lifelong happiness.
8. They Binge Drink — A Lot
Do you find yourself out partying till the sun comes up every time you meet for a nice walk in the park? If the aftermath of being together feels gross, unhealthy, or hangover-like more often than not, don't kid yourself. You're in a dysfunctional friendship, my friend.
Don't get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with drinking sometimes, but you'll know when it starts to feel like a bad habit. By the way, you can substitute any other similar unhealthy actions on this one and it would still apply — binge eating, gambling, always smoking weed, lying, etc.
9. They Compare Their Friend To Other Friends
Comparison has the power to make us feel like less magnificent versions of ourselves, and we do our friends a serious injustice when we try to equate them with another human being. Solid besties do their very best not to put this unfair burden on each other. The second you start telling your friend that Cindy at the office is better at responding to your hilarious texts than they are, you're acting like a dysfunctional friend.
10. They're Mean To Other People When They're Together
The way you treat others when you're together is a pretty good gauge of your camaraderie. True companions don't feel the need to put other people down, no matter what the circumstance may be, because they're happy enough with themselves without having to bully others. This all comes back to whether your BFF encourages you to be a better or worse version of yourself. Are you nasty and catty in their presence? Or accepting and awesome? Hopefully, you're seeing more of the latter.
11. They Take Each Other's Things Without Asking
Let's get something straight: it's one thing to borrow your bestie's boots and bring them back within a few days, but you're playing a completely different game when you waltz into their apartment and grab whatever you want out without telling them — or returning it to them. When it comes to being a taker, the actions aren't limited to material things; your friend could be "borrowing" your time or money without reciprocating, which is just as lame.
If you feel at any point that there is an imbalance among the two of you, and maybe you're constantly the giver, reclaim the parts of your closet that are missing and have a sit-down with your friend.
12. They Only Talk About Themselves
Inquiring about your friend's day is so simple, but it makes a landslide of a difference. Imagine what it would feel like if your SO came home from work and just babbled away about the veggie burger they had for lunch, and didn't take a second to look at you and ask how your job interview went. Well, it's just as uncool when friends do the same to each other.
You'll find that it's the BFFs with a rocky relationship who incessantly talk about themselves. Healthy friends engage in a two-sided conversation, complete with questions and genuine interest in what's happening in each others' worlds.
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